It’s unsurprisingly difficult for me to get any type of enjoyment out of last night’s win. The past three games have damaged my psyche to a point where a win over an equally mediocre team isn’t going to get me jazzed about the season. I’m still pessimistic in nature and practice, allowing a garbage turnover by Agbeko to trump any type of good play he might have made last night. If he did anything well, I didn’t see it.
Which brings me to my next controversial opinion: Milik Yarbrough should not be starting. In fact, his minutes should be limited.
Billionaire playboy, Stu Durando, posted an article last night after the win: Yarbrough gets start, sparks SLU to victory. In the article he correctly states that Milik finished the game with 16 pts and 11 rebounds.
Yarbrough, on the other hand, had an immediate impact, scoring eight points in the first seven minutes and 12 in the first half. He worked for layups and was wide open in the middle of the Alabama A&M zone numerous times for shots. He also had four assists and repeatedly got to the free-throw line.
Now, the way this reads is that Milik had an immediate impact as a starter, which is tough to disagree with because he honestly did. But it also reads as if he rounded out the remainder of the game in similar fashion, which is blatantly false.
Since the 12 minute mark in the first half, Milik went 2-7 from the field, he went 4-7 from the line (hardly impressive), and had two turnovers (this is a grossly misinterpreted stat, as anytime Milik drives to the basket and throws up a shot it can almost certainly be considered a turnover). And don’t be thrown off by his big rebounding night, Alabama A&M is one of the worst five teams in the country in that area. I’m pretty sure I could have operated a claw machine from section 208 and pulled down at least 5.
I’m not as high on Milik’s potential as my fellow blogger, Chris (which is why I felt this might be a good rant topic). And it’s not because I don’t see the physical talent he possesses, but it’s because his competency on the court resembles that of someone who orders breakfast from Arby’s out of choice, not necessity (looking at you, Jimmy). He doesn’t seem to know how to apply his own talents. He’s a big, mobile forward yet he chooses to drive the lane when it’s crowded rather than post up. He’s a serviceable outside shooter yet he tosses up a contested three when the clock shot is at 24. He’s our best rebounder yet he takes an extra dribble under the basket and misses his clean look. It’s goddamn infuriating.
So why did he earn a starting spot? I don’t blame Crews (print it out and frame it, Jim) for trying something different on the offense, because good God did we suck. And I’m not saying that Ash didn’t deserve to lose his spot, even though they’re virtually identical players right now (Ash has a slight edge on pts per game/shooting %, with Malik having more success with rebounding and assists). But Milik has not done anything to make me want him in there more than he already is. He’s the best rebounder on the team, averaging 6.8 rebounds per game (which is fine, I guess), but Reggie and Ash have comparable totals and Reggie gets far less minutes. Last night his Offensive Rating, which estimates points scored/produced per 100 possession, was good enough to rank him sixth on SLU’s team. On the year, he’s 7th on the team. If he’s a focal point of our offense then we’re in worse trouble than I thought.
When the offense flows through Milik, it doesn’t have an identity. When he is a complimentary player, I can deal with it. My problem with Milik starting is similar to Chris’ post of the same nature: Milik thinks he’s a point guard and Jim Crews either promotes that thinking, or Malik is totally ignoring him. It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that Milik Yarbrough is a raw talent who is un-coachable. Despite the rare scream sessions from Jim Crews, Milik continues to have the below logic structure:
I get that Milik is probably one of our players with the highest ceiling, but he just causes me so much damn frustration. If we’re going to be unwatchable this year, can we at least begin to develop players that give a shit (THE GOOSE)? Or rather, can it at least be because we’re not talented enough?
This will be the first weekly rant where the response writer won’t have to rip some Jack Daniel’s before posting to stomach defending the opposing view point. Kevin is right, and if you read my introduction on this blog, you already know I have a Malik Yarbrough problem. Like Heath Ledger in that cowboy movie, try as I might, I just can’t quit him. Please don’t get get the wrong idea though. I get just as frustrated at him as anyone else. Probably more, actually. At this point, when he drives into a double team and gets rejected by the point guard, it makes me look almost as dumb as he does. So I totally understand Kevin’s frustration with his recent play and considerable time he gets. I have two main responses to this:
- Who else do you want to play strong forward?
Let’s go through the list of people who could potentially take some of Malik’s minutes at the 4. Jolly? Good God no. Do we have to attach the gif of him shot-putting the ball off the shot clock from 5 feet out? This is a non-option. Neufeld? I will listen to this argument. In his short time in the program, Matt has shown agility, and offensive potential not displayed since the days of Ian Vouyoukas. I’m all for him getting more minutes. The only problem with his game is that he has watched too much Rob Loe game footage. Get away from the 3-pt line, Matt. From now on when you cross half court, any area beyond the arc is hot lava. You cannot walk on it. Our last option is Reggie Agbeko. Reggie has had a nice start to the young season from rebounding perspective. However Kev, if Malik’s turnovers cause you to drop an extra $9 on yet another Bud Light Lime, I cringe to think about the citrus shortage that would ensue when Reggie gets the opportunity to travel twice as much as he currently does in his limited playing time. Lastly but not least, all of these scenarios result in Austin Gillman getting increased minutes as well. No one wants this. Malik’s recent play has been maddening, but sadly, it’s the team’s best current option.
2. If this team has any chance at being half way decent in the next two years, Malik Yarbrough needs to be our best player. You don’t have to be an NBA scout to see that even though he does inexplicable things on the court, Malik has the highest upside of anyone on the current roster. This is why Crews sticks with him despite his numerous errors. No one else can do what he does. I actually agree with this approach. If we are going to be bad (and we most certainly are) you may as well try to cultivate talent for later years. Were Crews to sit Malik on the bench, it would stunt his development. Similarly if he just stuck Malik on the block, and told him to go to work, it may eliminate many of the bonehead plays. However this also limits the ceiling of what Malik could provide offensively. There is obviously a time limit to this experiment. The second Malik gets in the way of an otherwise winning team, he needs to sit. However, we are not close to being a winning team at this point. Let him work through the growing pains on the off-chance it molds him into one of the more dangerous scoring options in the A-10.
This is our longest article yet, so out of consideration for our readers with short attention spans see below:
TLDR: Malik sucks, but not as much as his replacements. I made a Brokeback Mountain reference.